A little hell broke loose today when news about the disqualification of Nigerian film entry, ‘Lionheart’ submission to the 92nd Academy Awards seeped online.

According to the Academy, nominees in the Best International Feature Film Category must have a predominantly non-English dialogue track, and ‘Lionheart’, a film by one of Nigeria’s influential actresses, Genevieve Nnaji comes short.

Reacting to the news, the award-winning thespian said,

“This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us one Nigeria. It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian.”

Responding to this recent development, the Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) Chairperson Chineze Anyaene said:

The budding Nigerian film industry is often faced with producing films with wide reach which often makes the recording dialogue predominantly English with non-English infusions in some cases.

Going forward, the committee intends to submit films which are predominantly foreign language – non-English recording dialogue. We are therefore urging filmmakers to shoot with intention of non-English recording dialogue as a key qualifying parameter to represent the country in the most prestigious award.

The committee is working tirelessly in organizing workshops, seminars and using other available media to create robust awareness on the guidelines and requirements for an International Feature Film Entry. Lionheart passed on other technical requirements from story, to sound and picture except for language as adjudged by the Academy screening matrix, which was a challenge for the committee at a time. This is an eye opener and step forward into growing a better industry.”

Meanwhile, The Best International Feature Film category is stated to carry certain requirements, which must be fulfilled before a film can be submitted. They include:

1. The film must have been first released in the country submitting it, after which it must have been exhibited for a minimum of 7 consecutive days in a movie theatre.

2. The movie must be predominantly non-English which means that movies with predominant English dialogue will not qualify for the award.

3. The film must not be transmitted electronically or otherwise, before its official release in the theatre.

The announcement sparked outrage from fans and filmmakers and below are some of the reactions on social media.